By Cory Loomis
May is Nebraska Migratory Bird Month, observed each year on the second Saturday of May. It is a chance for conservationists, natural resource agencies, families and individuals to celebrate birds and bird migration.
One of Nebraska's greatest birders is Creighton native, Mark Brogie. Upon graduating from Creighton, he continued his education at Wayne State and then received his masters from Michigan Technological University. Brogied then returned to Creighton were he taught physics and science for 35 years.
During his masters, Brogie completed a research on nesting raptors. At that time, he used to make fun of his brother Ed Brogie, who is also a birder in Nebraska. Ed Brogie was helping Mr. and Mrs. Lueshen of Wisner perform bird banding years ago.
Eventually, Mark Brogie started spending more time with the Lueshens which cause his birding kicked off for him. "By holding birds and get birds in the hand, it made you want to see more and more," Brogie explained.
During his studies at Wayne State, Professor Jewell Schock would take Brogie on field trips to different places. Schock would make the class record the counties they were and keep records of their bird sightings. Due of Schock's influence, Brogie started record keeping during his own ventures.
Today, Borgie has since retired but is currently the Records Committee Chairperson for the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union (NOU). Brogie maintains and publishes changes to the “Official List of the Birds of Nebraska”.
While he is not working on the state's official list, he goes birding practically daily. Of the 462 birds species that have occured in the state, Brogie has spotted about 97% of them. In Knox County alone, Brogie has recorded 325 of the 462. Knox County is unique due to having such diverse habitats with the Lewis and Clark Lake and rivers and prairies.
Nebraska is a great place to watch birds as it has a unique bird migrations. We have the snow geese, waterfowl and other birds that migrate all across the state. One of the most notable, the sandhill cranes. One of Brogie's rarest sightings was a Harris's Hawk. The Harris's is predominately found in the southwestern US which makes the sighting so special for Knox County. "
The Vermillion Flycatcher has been recorded 5 or 6 times. It is a small red bird with black wings. which is native to more of the desert southwest," Brogie said. The Flycatcher is one that has eluded Brogie. Bird watching is a unique hobby because people can of all ages can enjoy. Brogie says, "it gets you outside and observe the outdoors. Once you start, you want to keep on going to see something new. You can make it what it is."